One of the many benefits of yoga is its focus on spine flexibility. Especially in the modern world, where many of us spend hours hunched over computers and phones or in seated positions, yoga postures provide the perfect antidote to immobility and physical repetition.
Here are four of my favorite poses for countering all those hours in a chair. Each of these fun and easy poses will open your spine in different directions and get your blood flowing.
1. Baby Cobra
Lay on your tummy with your hands on the floor under your shoulders. Lift your head and open your heart by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Pull your belly button in and squeeze your legs together like a long snake tail. Breathe in and make your chest big like a cobra. Breathe out slowly and relax.
2. Gate Pose
Start on your knees and stretch one leg to the side. Slide your hand down your extended leg while your other arm reaches over your head. Bend at your waist and look up. Breathe deeply. Your ribs will stretch and open like a gate. Stay here for at least 3 long, deep breaths. When you inhale, stretch your arm up, when you exhale, bend a little more. Remember to switch sides!
3. Garland Pose
The squat is a classic spine opener that people around the world naturally do every day rather than sit in a chair. Squat down while keeping your heels on the floor and your back straight. Press your palms together in front of you. If you feel balanced, try pressing your palms together behind your back to create a small back bend. If balancing in a squat is difficult for you, stretch your arms out in front as a counter balance. Over time bring your arms to the sides or over your head. Breathe deeply.
4. Bridge Pose
Lay on your back. Bend your knees so that your feet are on the ground. Reach your hands toward your heels and try to grab them while using your legs to lift your hips toward the sky. Keep your knees in line like two train tracks and curve your back like a bridge. If it feels nice, clasp your hands together underneath you. This will open up your chest and provide relief if you experience tension between your shoulders. Breathe deeply. To exit, release your hands and roll down from your neck to your hips, keeping your head on the floor.
There are many yoga poses that help keep your spine flexible for optimum health and physical comfort. The important thing is to tune in to what your body is telling you. If you spend long hours in one position, be sure to take breaks and experiment with what works for you.